By William Giblin and Ariana Perez Valencia
The major mental and physical health benefits of youth sports outweigh its negative effects on education.
No one better knows the effect sports have on students than teachers. Many teachers at Summit Denali feel strongly about this topic.
Summit Denali English Literature teacher Matthew Sigler speaks about how he feels sports can affect youth development. Sigler said sports can help motivate student-athletes, especially with the academic criteria set at Summit Denali: “Requirements can be a strong motivation for students. Especially when at Summit, kids may find it harder to be motivated and sports can motivate the unmotivated.”
Other Summit Denali teachers felt similarly about youth sports. Summit Denali Spanish teacher Carlos Zepeda said, “It can be very beneficial. Big schools require students to have a good GPA to play.”
A GPA requirement to play high school sports isn’t uncommon in California. According to ESPN, “In California — which has its share of crime-ridden impoverished neighborhoods — state law requires students to have a 2.0 GPA in order to play sports.” This GPA requirement forces students to care about school because if they don’t, they won’t be able to play sports.
Sigler also talked about how without criteria set upon students, they can find that sports could become more important than school: “Students will often prioritize sports over schoolwork. People will get good at sports then ignore schools. That’s why it would be better to set criterias for those students to meet to participate in these sports,” he said.
Zepeda grew up with sports and agreed sports play a large role in development. He said it benefited him in many ways: “I feel like we build stronger relationships since we spent a lot of time playing with each other. It played a big role in developing social skills.”
According to the Athletic Career Placement, “Athletes know all about hard work, teamwork, adaptability, reaching goals and humility.” The above article mentions how children’s participation in sports can help them develop skills that would be needed to work in the workplace
Zepeda also said if a student continues to play a sport, it can also be beneficial for their future. “Sports could also be a career for students if they become really good,” Zepeda mentioned. “Like if they want to major in something like sports, it can open a lot of windows for them.”
While many may agree that children participating in sports can be beneficial in most cases, they also agree there are some downsides when it comes to youth sports. When asked about some downsides of youth sports, Stephen Kirk, an education specialist and basketball coach at Summit Denali, said bullying is a huge problem in youth sports and in a lot of instances prevents people from wanting to play sports. “Bullying has been around for a long time,” Kirk said. “There are a lot of social structures that can get in the way to be successful.”
Similar to Kirk, Zepeda also felt like there are certain social structures that should be changed. He said he would improve the way sports are divided. “There should be a team that includes all different genders,” he said. “I don’t think it should be as divided as it is now.” Growing up with sports, Zepeda believes that one of the main problems he currently sees with youth sports as an adult is how separated it is by gender.
In addition to the thoughts of Zepeda and Sigler, Kirk also believes youth sports are not pointless: “You can really say that about anything. Like for example, is art pointless? Is music pointless?” he asked. “There’s many things that sports can provide for some people that can’t be provided to other people.”
Featured Image (at the top of the post): Students playing sports PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr